‘If someone says they are offended, my immediate reaction is, what’s wrong with being offended?’
A famed political satirist, Iannucci’s credits span radio, film and television, and include The Thick of It, In The Loop, and Veep. He is also the director of the 2019 five star rated, The Personal History of David Copperfield which starred Dev Patel at the helm of a diverse cast.
The media regularly calls upon his political expertise for incisive commentary. A Trump-loather who has said he would cast a ‘stuffed animal’ as Boris Johnson, Iannucci has no fear of speaking truth to power, or of stoking a good argument.
‘The most influential figure in British comedy of the past three decades, not to mention an accomplished film director.’ – The Guardian
‘The godfather of comedy’ – The Times
“History, as well as life itself, is complicated; neither life nor history is an enterprise for those who seek simplicity and consistency.”
Jared Diamond is a world-renowned multidisciplinary academic. Originally trained in physiology, he subsequently developed a career in ornithology and ecology, and then in environmental history and geography. Drawing on this transdisciplinary perspective, he has written over 600 articles and has published 8 works of popular non-fiction, including the Pulitzer prize-winning Guns, Germs and Steel and international bestseller Collapse. Honours awarded to him include the National Medal of Science, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He currently spends his professional time teaching as Professor of Geography at UCLA, conducting field research on birds of the Southwest Pacific islands, writing, and promoting sustainable environmental policies, as a director of the international environmental organizations World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International.
“While his environmental approach to big-picture history is suggestive of cool, white-lab-coated detachment, Diamond also wears the mantle of a modern day prophet.” – The Guardian
“Physicists think for purely aesthetic reasons it would have been nicer if there was an equal amount of matter and antimatter in the early universe. Trouble is, this does not agree with observation.”
Sabine Hossenfelder is a theoretical physicist who specialises in the foundations of physics. She is a Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies where she leads the group on Superfluid Dark Matter. She is the author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, which explores the concept of elegance in fundamental physics and cosmology. Hossenfelder also has a popular YouTube channel called "Science without the gobbledygook" and works partly as a freelance science writer, with her work published in Scientific American, New Scientist, and Nautilus, among others.
“Hossenfelder has done physics and science more generally - and our better selves - a service.” – Jeremy Butterfield, editor of Philosophy of Physics (Handbook of the Philosophy of Science)
“There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.”
Daniel Dennett is a philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centres on philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies and the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. Dennett is an atheist and secularist, a member of the Secular Coalition for America advisory board, and a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is often referred to as one of the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism", along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens. A prolific author, he has written over a dozen books including the bestsellers ‘Consciousness Explained’ and ‘Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon’.
“In the course of forty years, and more than a dozen books, Dennett has endeavoured to explain how a soulless world could have given rise to a soulful one.” - The New Yorker
“The problem with attempts to define life is that life is not a natural kind.”
Sara Walker is an astrobiologist and theoretical physicist interested in the origin of life and how to find life on other worlds. She is most interested in whether or not there are ‘laws of life’ - related to how information structures the physical world - that could universally describe life here on Earth and on other planets. Walker is currently Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University, Associate Director of the ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems and an associate professor at Arizona State University (ASU). She is an advocate for the communication of science to the public, and has participated in many interviews, panels, and lectures to discuss her research and topics related to her fields of study.
“A fascinating thinker” – Santa Fe Institute
“I’m a skeptic not because I do not want to believe, but because I want to know.”
Michael Shermer is the founder of The Skeptics Society, the editor-in-chief of its magazine Skeptic, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, where he teaches Skepticism 101. Alongside his podcast, The Michael Shermer Show, his regular magazine contributions and numerous television appearances, Michael is a prolific science writer, whose 20 books include The Believing Brain, Skeptic, and his newest book Giving the Devil his Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist, published in 2020.
"Michael Shermer is a beacon of reason in an ocean of irrationality." - Neil deGrasse Tyson
“If only they didn’t speak English in America, then we’d treat it as a foreign country - and possibly understand it a lot better”
Jon Sopel is a British television presenter and correspondent at the BBC where he is currently the North America Editor. He was previously chief political correspondent for The BBC News Channel, and a presenter on the Politics Show. In 2020, Sopel began presenting the BBC podcast, Americast, alongside BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis and Chief North America Reporter Anthony Zurcher.
His latest book ‘UnPresidented’ released this year, gives a highly personal account of reporting on America in 2020, where Jon takes the reader behind the scenes of a White House in crisis.
"Jon Sopel may be the sanest man in America. He is certainly one of the most insightful … Immensely enjoyable" - Bill Bryson
“Antimatter is one of the biggest mysteries we have in physics today”
Tara Shears is a particle physicist whose research centres on using hadron colliders to investigate questions of antimatter. She is the first female Professor of Physics at the University of Liverpool, and is one of the leading British scientists at CERN, where she initiated and developed the electroweak and exotica physics working group. Shears is also a highly regarded science communicator, giving talks, hosting radio shows and collaborating with numerous artists and writers to bring her research to a wider audience.
“We believe Tara to be one of the best communicators of science we have ever seen.” - TEDx
“The leader of Germany can do better than making arms deals with Turkey while criticizing human rights violations there.”
Ece Temelkuran is an award-winning Turkish journalist and author. A graduate of Ankara University's Faculty of Law, she was fired from her job as a TV presenter in 2011 for criticizing the Turkish government over the Uludere massacre. She has published 12 books, both fiction and non-fiction, exploring hunger strikes, childhood imaginations and right-wing populism. Her columns have been published in international media such as the Guardian, New York Times and Der Spiegel. She has been twice recognized as Turkey’s most read political columnist, and twice rated as one of the ten most influential people in social media.
“Ece Temelkuran is a passionate authentic voice whose fearless stand against authoritarian incursion is inspiring. She writes with an urgent conviction that has never been more important than now.’ – Tina Brown, award-winning journalist and editor
“The conscious experience of being a subject arises when a single organism learns to enslave itself.”
Thomas Metzinger is a philosopher, renowned for his work on philosophy of mind and neuroethics. He is currently Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, and a member of the European Commission's High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. Thomas is also the founder and director of both the MIND group and the MPE Project, whose stated goal is to develop a minimal model of conscious experience. Thomas' book The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self draws on cutting edge neuroscience to a develop a new, radical picture of the relationship between the mind and the world.
"Metzinger is crisp in his arguments and has a keen appreciation of essential ideas" - Mark Kingwell, Bookforum
“The purpose of a good education is to show you that there are three sides to a two-sided story.”
Stanley Fish is a literary theorist, legal scholar, author and public intellectual, currently the Floersheimer Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Yeshiva University in New York. He is particularly associated with pioneering reader-response criticism, the theory that the meaning of the text is created by the reader, rather than discovered. Stanley has also been outspoken about the politics of universities, supporting safe spaces and criticising the supposed value of free speech.
"For brilliance and forcefulness in argumentation and for sheer boldness of mind and spirit, he has no match.”―Barbara Herrnstein Smith
“If your goal is to discover new, deeper laws, you need to mix with philosophers again.”
Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist who has been, since 2001, a founding and senior faculty member at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His main contributions have been to the quantum theory of gravity. He has been a co-inventor and major contributor to the field in two major directions: loop quantum gravity and deformed special relativity. He is the author of more than 150 scientific papers and numerous essays and writings for the public on science. His most recent book, Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, criticises the current state of quantum mechanics and offers a new model of the atomic world.
“Smolin is an extremely creative thinker who has been a leader in theoretical physics for many years.” – Adam Frank, physicist
“If 2020 showed us anything it’s that whatever we think we are doing, we aren’t doing it well.”
Güneş Taylor is a Postdoctoral Training Fellow at the Francis Crick Institute, the London-based biomedical research centre. Her research predominantly focuses on the genetic formation of ovaries and testes. Taylor has debated the implications of genome editing in forums such as Fertility Fest, the Festival of Genomics, and Virtual Futures, and is fascinated by our cultural and ideological responses to our genetic makeup. She is committed to educating around her research, writing and speaking in multiple venues for both academic and non-academic audiences.
“An incredible science communicator.” – Luke Robert Mason, Virtual Futures
“This isn't a new problem: white feminism has argued that gender should trump race since its inception.”
Mikki Kendall, a writer and feminist, covers a wide of topics including media representation, police brutality, food insecurity and others issues that impact marginalized people. Her book ‘Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women a Movement Forgot’ was a New York Times bestseller and was a Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2020 – the book explores the intersectionality between feminism, race, class, sexual orientation and ability.
"If Hood Feminism is a searing indictment of mainstream feminism, it is also an invitation...[Kendall] offers guidance for how we can all do better." – NPR
“Every human being, in a way, is a philosopher. Because that's what it is to be human.”
Hilary Lawson is a post-postmodern philosophy and a renowned critic of philosophical realism. He is best known for his work on reflexivity and his theory of Closure, which puts forward a non-realist metaphysics arguing that we close the openness of the world with our thought and language. published in 2020.
“Lawson shows himself to be a latter-day 'metaphysician' on the grand scale ... a quite astonishing achievement.” - Alan Montefiore, University of Oxford
“We can say that God doesn’t exist… But that doesn’t get rid of all those conceptual adherences that keep dualities and hierarchies in place.”
Mary-Jane Rubenstein is professor of religion; feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; and science in society at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, USA. Her most recent book Pantheologies: Gods, Worlds and Monsters explores the turbulent history of the idea that God and the world are identical. She points to the potential of pantheism - by rejecting the fundamental difference between God and world, pantheism threatens all the other oppositions that stem from it: light versus darkness, male versus female, and humans versus every other organism. The book continues her practice of writing deep interdisciplinary dives into such fascinating topics as the multiverse and wonder.
“Rubenstein will save us every time from the totalitarian tendencies of certain regions of process philosophy, from the Teutonic idealisms of post-Hegelian theologies, even from the totalizing forms of monistic pantheisms. ” - Nancy Frankenberry
“One begins to wonder if all the most interesting problems in physics are now in biology.”
Nick Lane is Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. His research focuses on the way that energy flow has shaped evolution over 4 billion years, using a mixture of theoretical and experimental work to address the origin of life, the evolution of complex cells and downright peculiar behaviour such as sex. He was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research, and is Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Life’s Origin and Evolution (CLOE). He is the author of four acclaimed books on evolutionary biochemistry, which have sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide.
“He is an original researcher and thinker and a passionate and stylish populariser. His theories are ingenious, breathtaking in scope, and challenging in every sense.” – The Guardian
“We must continue to fight male oppression, but realise that our internal members can do almost as much harm to our cause as external enemies”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is an award-winning, Ugandan-born author and columnist. Now a journalist, she has written for The Guardian, Observer, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Evening Standard, The Mail and other newspapers and was a weekly columnist on The Independent for eighteen years. She was the first regular columnist of colour on a national newspaper in the UK, the first female Muslim too. She is also founder of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.
“Alibhai-Brown brings a terrific sense of purpose” – The Guardian
“It’s the lure of the transgressive which is essentially sexy”
Olivia Fane is a psychiatric social worker turned writer. She is the author of both novels and non-fiction books, and most recently Why Sex Doesn’t Matter, which addresses the politics, the obsessions, the misconceptions of one of the most important aspects of human existence.
“Extremely articulate, argumentative and allusive.” - The Evening Standard
"Creating a sense of co-existence and community is about forging a shared identity which all members of society can identify with and I think this will necessarily begin with quite a profound reform of education."
Myriam Francois is an Anglo-French writer and broadcaster. Francois converted to Islam at the age of 21, convinced that the Qur'an represented "the culmination of all of [her] philosophical cogitation." She has written extensively on the place of Islam in the modern world and on European politics generally, for publications such as The Guardian, Huffington post, New Statesman, and the Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel. She has made and presented many documentaries, including for the BBC and Channel 4’s Dispatches for whom she explored Islamic marriage practices in the UK. Francois recently led BBC Radio 4’s prayer for the day and spoke on BBC World news about President Macron’s relationship to French Muslims.
In 2019, Francois launched the website weneedtotalkaboutwhiteness.com, with a view to encouraging conversations about whiteness and its cultural impact.
"What is perhaps even more depressing is that it’s not just men who have lower expectations of women; it’s women too."
Mary Ann Sieghart is a journalist, radio presenter, and Chair of the Social Market Foundation - a think tank that believes in fairer markets and open public services. Much of her career as a journalist was spent working for The Times, The Independent, The Economist and the Financial Times, writing on politics and social affairs. She is currently a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where she plans to research and write a book about why women are accorded less authority than men.
“It's easier to change what you do than people think it is. If you don't change, your field changes around you.”
Walter Gilbert is biochemist, physicist, businessman, Nobel laureate and artist. An early proponent of sequencing the human genome, Gilbert was awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, alongside Frederick Sanger, for their contributions in determining the base sequences in nucleic acids. He has also been honoured by the National Academy of Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Sciences, for his numerous scientific contributions. In the business world, he has co-founded multiple biotech companies, including Biogen and Myriad Genetics. And since retiring from Harvard in 2001, Gilbert has further launched a career in digital photography and now exhibits his creations around the world. His images stress form, texture and colour, as he delights in the search for three-dimensional effects on two-dimensional surfaces.
“Working with digital photography for over a decade, Gilbert, the artist/scientist, approaches his imagery as he would any scientific investigation, exploring and experimenting in a thousand ways before accepting his findings.” - NY Art Beat
‘Some people have ideas and then don’t do anything about it, but I did’
Ab Fab Star, Helen Lederer is a comedian, actress, and writer. Her first book, Losing It, was nominated for the Edinburgh First Book Award, and the P. G. Wodehouse Comedy Literary Award. Only four women have won the Wodehouse prize in its 20-year history, one of the reasons that Lederer created a new literary prize, the CWIP Awards for Comedy Women In Print. The award is now in its third year.
‘One of the UK's favourite comediennes’ - The Times
“Once you’ve plunged into the ocean, does it really matter whether or not you believe in water?”
Brian C. Muraresku is a classicist, lawyer and New York Times bestselling author. He studied Latin, Greek and Sanskrit at Brown University before entering the New York Bar via Georgetown Law. In 2016, Muraresku became the founding executive director of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. In arbitration with the NFL in 2018, he represented the first professional athlete in the United States to seek a therapeutic use exemption for cannabis. His debut book, The Immortality Key, combines Muraresku’s classical research interests to provide a groundbreaking dive into the role psychedelics have played in the origins of Western civilization.
"An outstanding inquiry into the power of the Mysteries in the ancient world… from a true Renaissance intellect." – Gregory Nagy, Harvard University
‘Brennan takes a sportsman’s pleasure in upsetting pieties and demolishing weak logic’ The New Yorker
The author of The Ethics of Voting, Why Not Capitalism? And Against Democracy, Brennan combines philosophical rigour with business acumen and political experience.
He is currently the Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.
‘How little people know has remained constant for something like 65 years. Then they knew hardly anything, now they know hardly anything’ - Jason Brennan
“Does China want to transform the global order to advance its own interests and to reflect its own image? That may be the most important question in geopolitics today, yet the answers it elicits tend to reveal more about modern biases than they do about what a future Chinese superpower would look like.”
Rana Mitter is Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford. He has been elected to several prestigious positions including president of the Cambridge Union, Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University and Fellow of the British Academy. In 2019, he was appointed an OBE for his services to education. Mitter is also a regular writer for publications such as The Telegraph, the Financial Times and the Guardian, and frequently presents BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking. Mitter's research focuses on the emergence of nationalism in modern China and he has authored several books on the topic.
"Breathtaking and authoritative" - Daily Telegraph
“The UK has been shamefully feeble in defence of Hong Kong”
Isabel Hilton is the founder and and editor of chinadialogue.net, and is a former editor-in-chief of opendemocracy.net. She has reported from China, South Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East for the BBC, the Sunday Times, the Independent and the Guardian.
"Lively and vastly entertaining...Hilton has seen-and participated in-one of the final moments of a lost Tibet." - Boston Sunday Globe
“Most of the ways we think about our institutions, constitutions and political organisations are framed in a particular way: at a minimum, the theoretical premise is that we need some kind of structure in order to make citizens compliant and to make us cooperate. Anarchists start from a very different foundation: that we naturally cooperate.”
Ruth Kinna is a professor of political philosophy at Loughborough University, working in the Department of Politics, History and International Relations. An expert on anarchism, she has been the editor of the journal Anarchist Studies since 2007 and has authored multiple books on radical politics. She also writes for popular publications including The Conversation, Strike! Magazine, Novara Media and Dope. Kinna has appeared on many radio and TV shows talking about radical politics, including BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time, The Moral Maze and Russell Brand’s Under the Skin.
“The Government of No One [Kinna’s most recent book] will undoubtedly become obligatory reading for those who wish to learn about anarchism, as well as for scholars of radical politics in general.” – The Times
Claire Armitstead is Associate Editor, Culture, for the Guardian. Over a twenty-five year career with the paper she has been a theatre critic, Arts Editor, Literary Editor and most recently Head of Books. She presents the Guardian books podcast and is a regular cultural commentator on radio, and at live events across the UK and internationally. She has interviewed and been in conversation many notable authors, among them Michael Morpurgo, Eimear McBride, Julian Barnes and Pat Barker.
“By exalting the limitless power of instrumental rationality, the Enlightenment cultivated an ideology in which nothing lay beyond the power of human apprehension, domination, and administration. The “administered world” of Nazism, then, represented the realization, not the abandonment, of the Enlightenment: the ‘Enlightenment is totalitarian.’”
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is Professor of History at University of Madison-Wisconsin. Her research centres on the intellectual and cultural history of the United States, including the transatlantic flow of intellectual and cultural movements. She is the author of American Nietzsche and The Ideas that Made America and she has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best first book in intellectual history.
“A leading scholar of American intellectual history” – LA Review of Books
‘Like him or loathe him, Trump is the best man for the job!’
The chair of Republican Overseas UK since May 2017, Elliott is a veteran of many Republican campaigns in the United States and a powerful lobbyist in the UK. Elliott is a recent Trump-backer in the American Presidential Election, a campaigner for a more deregulated form of Brexit and a proponent of a closer US-UK trade deal in years to come.
‘One of the secret power brokers in the Anglo-American political relationship’ - Politico
“Don’t argue about how much salt there is in food — this can save relationships — you live in different taste worlds; you’ve got different taste buds.”
Barry C Smith is a philosophy professor, director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, and an advisory board member at the Institute of Art and Ideas. He also co-directs the Centre for the Study of the Senses, a research center whose recent findings have changed our understanding of how our senses inform our perception of the world. Barry has recently led a worldwide consortium of scientists and clinicians to research sensory loss after exposure to Covid 19. Barry has a passion for wine, and at past festivals, has hosted fantastic wine tasting events, drawing on this work on the multisensory nature of experience.
“Well up to the task of situating... questions within a larger framework of taste and perception, subjectivity and objectivity.” - The TLS
“Nature or the environment is no longer to be seen as merely the ‘background’, but is itself a ‘protagonist’
David Chandler is Professor of International Relations at the University of Westminster, and edits the journal Anthropocenes: Human, Inhuman, Posthuman and the book series Routledge Studies in Resilience. His most recent monograph is Ontopolitics in the Anthropocene: An Introduction to Mapping, Sensing and Hacking (2018).
Chandler’s long-term research focus is on new forms of subjectivity, shaped by both a retreat from the human as subject and the world as object.
"Chandler throws himself headlong into the global tempest of our eponymous era” - Jairus Grove, University of Hawai’i
“Everything begins only to end. The moment you were born you began to die. That's how it is with everything.”
Janne Teller is a critically-acclaimed writer of novels, essays, and short stories. Teller’s work includes existential themes on a grand scale which often spark controversial debate. Her novels include Odin's Island, a modern Nordic saga of politics, history and religion, Europa, All that you Lack which explores history in war and love, and Come, an existential novel about ethics in art and modern life.
Teller has received many literary awards including the Drassow’s Prize for literary works towards peace and human understanding and her work has been translated into over 25 languages. Before she began writing full-time, Janne studied macro economics and worked as a conflict advisor for the EU and UN, mostly in Africa.
“A beautifully poetic writer.” - The Telegraph
“Without taking sex workers’ experience into account there can be no protection, only repression.”
Cari Mitchell is a spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), a network of women working in different areas of the sex industry – both on the streets and indoors. She is a mother and grandmother, and a state registered nurse.
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